Writing and Design

Steve Ince, freelance writer and game designer, posts thoughts and comments on these two meaningful aspects of his life.

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Name: Steve Ince

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Not a Good Start

I like to read a lot and it's not unusual for me to have two or three books on the go at the same time as well as magazines. It's important to read a broad range of books, particularly outside of the game development arena, but it's also imprtant to keep abreast of what other writers and developers are doing within the industry.

With this in mind, I've just started reading "The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design" by Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten. It's a book I've been meaning to read for a little while. I was a little surprised that I was still in the Introduction when I found something I disagreed with strongly.

Under a section entitled, "Our Eleven Video Game Survival Commandments", the first of these is "We're In the Entertainment Business, Not the Game Business."

How can you write and design games and not be in the Game Business? Why does being in the Entertainment Business preclude you from being in the Game Business? Games are, after all, a form of entertainment. What's wrong with saying, "We're in the Entertainment Business AND the Game Business"?

If you don't approach writing for games with the game uppermost in your mind you run the risk of writing at odds with it and not having the story, characters and gameplay fit into a cohesive whole. It's very easy to run away with the story and characters and have the developer tell you that you have to pull back because the engine won't deliver what's been asked for. Most importantly, every game is different and what gives it that difference will affect the way the story can be told.

Although it's not the best of starts to a book, I'm hoping that the rest of it will prove to be better.

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OpenID Igor Hardy said...

By my account already things like having "The Ultimate Guide" in the title and presenting suggestions in the form of "Our commandments" make this book seem very fishy.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Yes, if you use something like "Ultimate Guide", it sets you up for a fall even if your book is brilliant.

However, although I'm cautious I'm going to continue reading.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And surely by saying you're [only] in the entertainment industry is insinuating videogames are nothing more than for entertainment purposes, which surely is not true?

They have, in their own interesting way, shaped my life and way of thinking. I guess I'd go as far as to consider them educational, political, etc, or what some people would say 'art'

Good on you Steve for disagreeing.

Stefan L

3:13 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Thanks Stefan.

They make some good points in the book as I'm reading it, but there are also a number of other things that don't quite sit right with me.

Part of me is disappointed for the reason that I kind of expected it to tally better with the thoughts of other writers I've met or read about.

3:22 PM  

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